I really hate it when people say how cheap running is and that it’s a great sport to take up if you don’t want to have to spend a lot of money.
If you knew how hard it was for me to save money as a runner, with all things running related, you may have a different thought. The issue is, when you run a lot, you can can always justify buying running clothes because you are like “well I will definitely wear them!” In fact, sometimes I force myself to walk past the sports store/Nike store/Lululemon etc., and not go in, because I LOVE running clothes so much, I am always tempted to buy (more).
But despite my obsession with running clothes, if I’m being honest, a big chunk of change as a runner is spent on running shoes. Proper running shoes is non-negotiable. And if you replace your running shoes as often as you are supposed to, and rotate a few different pairs, you will likely honestly spend hundreds of dollars on shoes. Literally.
I’ve run in Mizuno Wave Riders for several years now, using trail shoes for my weekly trail runs, and most recently adding Hokas to my rotation. I love all my shoes, but that’s because they work for me, are the right fit and are right for my running style and mileage. And despite the expense, it’s worth it – the right shoes make all the difference in your performance and keeping you injury free.
And all running shoes, just like any other shoes, are designed not only with the purpose of running, but for a specific style of running and a specific runner profile. Here’s what you need to know about how to understand your running profile and choose the right runners for you:
How to choose the right shoes:
- Be aware of the styles of running – You can heel strike or toe strike, pronate or supinate. You can be neutral, land heavy, or be light on your feet. Regardless of how you run, there is a shoe for it, and more than that, there is a shoe that will help boost your running, not lead to injury. Don’t get caught up in whether you run the “right” way or not, just get the right shoe for how you run and then work on changing your running style if that is something you would like to achieve.
- Be aware of the types of running shoes – There are minimalist shoes and those with maximal cushioning. There are high support shoes, low support shoes and medium support shoes. Some shoes are rated as neutral, while others have more or less cushioning, and then there’s wide shoes and narrow shoes. Getting into the right shoe involves more than just simply knowing you need a running shoe. It involves knowing how much mileage you are doing and for how long, how much speed work, how your foot lands and how much support you need. This ties in closely with your style of running, but being aware of the options and figuring out where you fit into them is key to choosing the right runners.
- Get the right shoe for your terrain – You wouldn’t wear indoor soccer cleats outdoors, or basketball shoes for outdoor tennis, and the same applies to your running shoes: if you are mostly running trails, invest in trail shoes, mostly track, get a good pair of track shoes, mostly road . . . you get the idea. The point is, that each running terrain has different demands and considerations, and whether you realize them or not, the researchers and developers of shoes do, and they’ve accounted for them in the shoes that they make. Good trail shoes prevent you from falling as easily or rolling your ankle on rough and varied terrain, while track shoes are designed for speed and minimal time on the ground. Do your research and buy the right shoes for your terrain.
- Consider your runner profile – Your running profile is all the things that make up you as a runner – how often you run, how far you go, how much you are running weekly and monthly, how many long runs vs. short runs you do, where you run, the amount of speed work etc. etc. All of the aspects of how, when and how frequently you train, play a part in what the right shoe is for you. And while there will be some overlap amongst profiles, being in the right shoes will allow you to continue to build upon your running and reach new training goals, not sideline you where you are. Take some time to write down your profile and think about the details of your training. Be honest with yourself and be sure to consider where you are now and how you are running currently, not where you want to be or how you wish you were running. Running shoes don’t account for running wishes!
- Get a proper fitting – If this all sounds really overwhelming and you have no idea where to start, or even if you are familiar with all of this and have your shoe selection narrowed down, do yourself a favor and get a professional shoe fitting. In this, they will not only be able to give you an accurate shoe size, but will tell you how you land (heel striker, toes etc.), whether you roll in or out on impact (pronate or supinate), the amount of support you need, injuries to watch out for and so much more. A proper fitting can be the difference between you staying injury free and improving as a runner, or you being sidelined within a week because the shoes you chose were not right for you.
Remember the following:
- Shoes can’t fix your injuries – Yes it is true, that if you run in worn out shoes that don’t offer you proper support, you will likely end up injured. But once you have an injury – whether from poor shoes or otherwise – simply getting new shoes won’t fix it. It may help it, or prevent it from getting worse, but the only way to fix an injury is to stop running and seek treatment such as physiotherapy, osteopathy etc.
- Don’t change your shoes to change your running – The promise of minimalist shoes that will make you run on your toes; lighter shoes that will improve your cadence; more cushioning to help you have less time on the ground and more momentum forward. It sounds good, and if you have the technique, indeed, all these shoes can do what they say, but simply putting them on and running in them isn’t going to make it happen. If you are a heel striker and purchase shoes that are designed to make you run on the balls of your feet, you are going to get really sore calves, an injury, and a lot of recovery pool running, but you may still not be running on your toes. Any change that you want to make happen in your running, whether it be cadence, speed, gait or landing pattern, has to happen from your effort and improving your technique before it happens with shoes.
- It’s not all about the looks – Unless you are one of the few lucky people who can simply run in any shoe with no issues, chances are you will find a brand or style of shoe that works best for you. It’s the one that limits your injuries, allows you to put in the miles you need to, is comfortable and offers you the support you need. And because shoe manufacturers bring out new versions every season, there will be times that it will be ugly, and be in terrible colours. Buy the shoe anyway. It’s worth it. And likewise, when you like other brands better or there’s really cool colours in another shoe, don’t just buy it for that reason. Unless it fits within your shoe fitting profile, it may not be a good shoe for you and will lead to injury and problems. We’ve all been stuck running in the ugly shoes . . .
If you are ready to take your running to the next level and want to do more to reach your goals and improve your performance, check out the running coaching options!